Burger-flipping robot Flippy starts work at CaliBurger fast food chain

LOS ANGELES -- A robot named Flippy is in the kitchen at fast food restaurant CaliBurger in Pasadena, California.

caliburger cheeseburger

"The key to success in the restaurant industry is consistency. So anytime you go to a CaliBurger anywhere you know that the patty will be cooked exactly the same," said John Miller, CEO of Cali Group, the company that runs the chain.

The robot was developed by subsidiary Miso Robotics.

So how does it work? Before Flippy can get started, it needs a little human help. A co-worker puts raw patties on the grill.

"The kitchen of the future will always have people in it, but we see that kitchen as having people and robots," said David Zito, co-founder and CEO of Miso Robotics.

Flippy's Miso Robotics Team

Flippy uses thermal imaging, 3-D and camera vision to sense when to flip -- and when to remove.

"It detects the temperature of the patty, the size of the patty and the temperature of the grill surface," Zito said.

The device also learns through artificial intelligence -- basically, the more burgers that Flippy flips, the smarter it gets.

Right now, cheese and toppings are added by a co-worker.

Caliburger Hong Kong

In addition to consistency and safety, CaliBurger said the robot can cut down on costs.

"It's not a fun job -- it’s hot, it’s greasy, it’s dirty," Miller said about the grill cook position.

Less turnover means less time training new grill cooks.

"This technology is not about replacing jobs. We see Flippy as that third hand," Zito said.

Menu at Caliburger Hong Kong

Miso Robotics said Flippy costs at least $60,000. CaliBurger is using Flippy in its Pasadena store starting Monday, with plans to expand the use of it at other locations soon.